It is an interesting time for the Republican Party, but the BYU College Republicans club hopes to make space for all who are interested in conservative politics and others who want to learn.
Club co-president Hunter Thomas works hard to keep the club running. He spearheads events, lectures and debates on behalf of the club. Thomas is what would be considered an atypical conservative by some — he’s Hispanic and the child a Mexican immigrant.
While Thomas believes wholeheartedly in conservative politics, he acknowledges the recent divide in the party, which he said is based on various opinions of President Donald Trump. Thomas said that some BYU students hold conservative beliefs and support some of Trump’s policies but don’t like who the President is as a person. According to Thomas, this makes some wary of associating with conservative ideals.
Because of this wariness, Thomas works to make the club a safe space for students to come and discuss their beliefs. He also wants to make sure that BYU students understand that there is room for various opinions within the party. Thomas said he takes a more moderate stance on immigration, though he still believes in some form of border control.
“Votes make a difference, but your vote doesn’t statistically make a difference,” James said. “It makes a difference when you help other people get involved and understand the issues and the impacts that they have in your life.”
Janessa James, an economics major who runs social media for BYU College Republicans, also propagates the idea that the club should be a safe space for conservative students who might not support Trump. She noted that the club’s purpose is to keep students informed.
The club promotes local political involvement, even holding meetings with the city of Provo about housing laws. They also host events with speakers like Utah Republican Senator Deidre Henderson to promote conservative women in politics.
Casey Cunningham, a political science major, is one such woman. According to Cunningham, BYU students who are conservative tend to be quieter about what they believe. She noted that liberal viewpoints at BYU might get more attention via social media and even in classes, so it’s important for conservatives to have their own voice.
Cunningham said she has benefited from being a member of the club by making friends who have similar ideas.
“We’re really a space for everyone, regardless of your opinion,” Cunningham said. “Everyone can come and discuss conservative politics — you don’t even have to be conservative.”
The BYU College Republicans usually hold events monthly but are planning on meeting more regularly. More information can be found on the club’s Facebook page.